August 20, 2003

The New Republic
There are two very different experiments in direct democracy happening in this country right now.

The first, more hyped, more ill-conceived of the two is the Grand Guignol of Politics we call the California Recall Election, which came into being after paid volunteers worked day and night to get 2% percent of the population to over turn an election that was decided by 8 million voters. Now, 135 candidates have 8 weeks before they appear on a punch card ballot that could be up to 4 pages long and, on that date, even if 49% of the voters support Gov. Davis, a he can be replaced by anyone who's fortunate enough to get just one more vote than his nearest opponent. No majority needed and no run-offs in place. Our new governor could have a mandate from a whopping 5% of the electorate before trying to undo an $8 Billion dollar budget deficit in a legislature that requires a 2/3 majority to raise ANY new taxes.

Alot of numbers, I know. The short answer: a guy with very little political clout could be replaced by a guy with NO political clout or expertise in the midsts of a legislative crisis. And, if Davis is kicked out and replaced by The Terminator or, god forbid, Bill Simon, does anyone think that the Democrats will waste one second to stage their own recall?

The other exercise in direct democracy is Howard Dean's asymetrical political campaign.

As Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi describes in this interview, and Dean's Blog For America have created an environment where a politician can have a direct line of communication with his consituents, and where both Dean and his supporters assume responsibility for his campaign.

Case in point: one of the ideas yours truly suggested on Blog for America was a series of Dean tailgate parties. If you assume that the vast majority of the population isn't interested in the politics that effects their daily lives, then what are they interested in? Well, sports, for one. So, my idea was to make a showing at some sporting events. Don't be annoying and pester people about politics. Go there for the game, but were your Dean colors as a group. Eventually people will come talk to you.
Well, here's a recent posting on Dean's Blog:

Politics is not a Spectator Sport -- Baseball for America

Yesterday I asked Gray to find examples of Dean supporters using the Get Local website to rally at baseball games. Here are just a few:

Phillies Game, September 6, 7 PM, Veterans Stadium
Join us for one of the final baseball games at the Vet! We need 25 people or more to get the up on the marque! If we get 40 or more people we get a deeper discount on tickets, so invite all your friends and neighbors to see the Vet one last time.

Dean Visibility at Fenway Park, Friday, Aug. 29.
Politics is not a spectator sport. Join in on a large visibility at, around, and in Fenway Park. Spread the word about Dean while greeting all the Fenway faithful (35,000 fans!) as the Red Sox face the Yankees on Friday, August 29th. Wear your Dean shirt, red socks, and bring your friends, family, and flyers.

The community impacts the candidate and each other. Can you imagine, just for a moment, what a White House Blog would be like? What kind of impact that could have?

I were my Dean button daily these days, and I generally get two responses. Most women say "I love Howard Dean! I think he's great!" and that's it. Most men say, "I love what Dean has to say, but he doesn't have a chance in Hell of winning." To which, my response is this:

If people who think he's great but can't win actually voted for Dean, he just might win.

Voting your conscience might actually elect a President this time around. Imagine that.

Now, I've spoken at length in the past about this issue of electibility, but I'd just like to consider one thing: if so many people think Dean is great, who do they think are the people who will vote for Bush? More importantly, WHY do they think these people will vote for Bush?

Anyway, keeping in line with the activism of the campaign, Dean is compiling a petition calling for a scaling back of the USA Patriot Act and opposition to it's successor, The Victory Act, which seeks to let John Ashcroft creep even further inside your business. Check the link above and sign up.

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